A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending August 4.
Judith Jones, 93 — who helped revolutionize American cuisine by publishing Julia Child and other cookbook authors, helped introduce English-language readers to “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and for decades edited John Updike, Anne Tyler, John Hersey and other literary lions — died Wednesday of complications from Alzheimer’s at her summer home in Walden, Vermont. Ms. Jones, who spent more than 50 years at Alfred A. Knopf before retiring in 2011, was herself an author and gourmet who collaborated on several cookbooks with her husband, Evan Jones, contributed to numerous food magazines and wrote the memoir “The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food,” published in 2007. The year before, she received the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ara Parseghian, 94, a Presbyterian of Armenian descent who might have seemed an unlikely savior of Notre Dame football but became just that, coaching the Fighting Irish out of the wilderness and back to greatness in the 1960s and ’70s, died Wednesday at his home in Granger, Indiana. Parseghian, whose home was not far from the university’s campus in South Bend, Indiana, had recently been undergoing treatment at a care facility for a hip infection.
Parseghian ranks with Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy in the pantheon of Notre Dame football coaches. In his 11 seasons (1964 through 1974), his teams won 95 games, lost 17 and tied four, for a .836 winning percentage. His 1966 and 1973 teams were voted national champions. When Parseghian arrived at Notre Dame, the university’s football program had been in decline for years, until he turned it around.
In 1994, Parseghian founded the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, dedicated to financing research on Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a genetic pediatric nerve disorder that killed three of his grandchildren.
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Jeff Brotman, 74, Costco’s co-founder and chairman of its board, who helped build a global retailing powerhouse and was prominent in local philanthropic and civic circles, died early Tuesday. Brotman died in his sleep at his home in Medina, said his brother, Michel Brotman. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. “We assume his heart just stopped working,” Michel Brotman said.
Along with Jim Sinegal, Costco co-founder and former CEO, the pair’s complementary set of business skills helped grow Costco into retail juggernaut that last year generated revenue of nearly $119 billion. Sinegal oversaw operations and finances, and Mr. Brotman handled the real-estate moves, as the company expanded to its current 736 warehouses across the U.S. and in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
The two partners shared a feel-good philosophy, epitomized by their motto, “Do the right thing.” The company’s unusually generous salaries and benefits for workers rankled Wall Street stock analysts, and the partners publicly characterized their retail rivals as Scrooges.
Brotman also supported other entrepreneurs. He was an early investor in Starbucks. The philanthropic endeavors of Brotman and his wife, Susan, spanned the educational, medical and cultural sectors. Brotman “has been a shining light in the community contributing so much to Seattle and the nation. We have lost a titan of our community,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ executive chairman
Jeanne Moreau, 89, the sensual, gravel-voiced actress who became the face of the New Wave, France’s iconoclastic mid-20th-century film movement, most notably in François Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim,” died Monday at her home in Paris. Moreau, whom journalists liked to call the thinking moviegoer’s femme fatale, first came to U.S. audiences’ attention in Louis Malle’s 1958 drama “The Lovers.” A successful stage, film and TV actress, she received plenty of accolades and was made an officer of the Legion of Honor. Moreau was the first woman inducted into the Académie des Beaux-Arts. She refused to accept “the cliché that life is a mountain. You go up, reach the top and then go down.” To her, “life is going up until you are burned by flames.”
Sam Shepard, 73, whose hallucinatory plays redefined the landscape of the American West and its inhabitants, died July 27, at his home in Kentucky. His death was announced Monday. Complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease were cited as the cause.
Possessed of a stoically handsome face and a rangy frame, Shepard became a familiar presence as an actor in films that included “Days of Heaven” (1978), “The Right Stuff” (1983) and “Baby Boom” (1987). But he was a reluctant movie star, always suspicious of celebrity’s luster, who was more at home as one of the theater’s most original and prolific portraitists of what was once the American frontier. His singular view was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for “Buried Child” (1978).
Shepard wrote more than 55 plays (his last, “A Particle of Dread,” premiered in 2014), acted in more than 50 films and had more than a dozen roles on television. He was also the author of several prose works, including “Cruising Paradise” (1996), and the memoir “Motel Chronicles” (1982). Though he received critical acclaim almost from the beginning of his career, and his work has been staged throughout the world, he was never a mainstream commercial playwright.
Martin A. “Marty” Sklar, 83, a right-hand man of Walt Disney and central figure in the development and expansion of his company’s theme parks around the world, died July 27 at his Hollywood Hills home. No details were released on his cause of death. Sklar had roles in the development of every Disney park, from the original Disneyland in Southern California in 1955 to the Shanghai Disney Resort last year. He was revered by employees as a living link to the founder.
“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy,” Sklar said in 2005, reading from a plaque at the front of the park. “That says so much about what Walt intended here,” added Sklar.
D.L. Menard, 85, the Cajun singer and songwriter who wrote “The Back Door,” a ubiquitous bayou standard sung in French as “La Porte d’en Arriere,” died July 27 at his granddaughter’s home in Scott, Louisiana. Menard, who had multiple ailments, including cancer and heart problems, was widely known as “the Cajun Hank Williams” for the country twang in his voice and the concise poetry of his songs.
“He was a consistently excellent songwriter and a consistently excellent musician,” said the folklorist Barry Ancelet in an interview. “He was a prolific oral poet who had a remarkable knack for turning an observation, something he observed in our society, into a little nugget of poetry.” Two of his albums were nominated for Grammy Awards, and he was a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. In 1994 the National Endowment for the Arts named him to a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award in traditional arts.